The Lebanese parliament met today to elect a Lebanese president for a six years term. Samir Geagea (head of the Lebanese Forces) is running for the presidency and there are several other potential nominees (some being announced and some not). Walid Jumblatt (head of the Progressive Socialist Party and with a parliamentary block of 8 MPs), decided to nominate one of his Maronite MPs, Henri Helou (since the President should be a Maronite) for presidency. This is seen as a political stunt not to choose Geagea (March 14 powers) or another March 8 nominee such as Michel Aoun, or maybe Sleiman Franjieh. Most of the people know that Helou’s chances are not high.
So people are divided about this nomination as well as the nomination of Geagea (some call him a war lord and criminal, whereas his supporters believe he is a “strong statesman” who served his time in prison when other politicians who were war lords were not punished). People, media figures, and media institutes gave their opinions about the nominations but some were remarkably sectarian, totally biased, and acting as a propaganda tool. Lebanon Debate published two articles: one under the title “Samir Geagea is not nominated to the Presidency prize“, where one of the staff writers Rakel Al Ateek did not see any difference between being a journalist and being a Lebanese Forces supporter. Some of the phrases she used were: “Geagea doesn’t really care about titles, he went to prison in his own will.. he is above parliamentary and ministerial seats.. he brought back “prestige” to the presidency..” as well as endless flattery. Some would debate that this is an opinion piece, but that is not true. An opinion piece is an article that says an opinion about different candidates without taking any position. Some might debate that this is only the view of one of their staff, but that is not true. Indeed, Lebanon Debate emailed this article to all of its data base instead of simply having it in the “opinion” section on their website. And if that was only one incident, then why did Lebanon Debate publish Walid Jounblat, why are you provoking the Christians?, which was signed by its editorial board? The rhetoric Lebanese way of thinking prevails, dividing the Lebanese between Sunni, Shiite, Christian and Druze (something that the Lebanese law bans and labels as sectarianism incantation). The article debates that Jumblatt does not respect the Christian will having a strong president (which they mean one of the top four Christian leaders: Geagea, Aoun, Franjieh and Gemayel). It continues to address MP Helou that Jumblatt nominated for presidency, calling him the “dagger that is slaying the Lebanese formula” (the formula which states that sectarian leaders divide the pie among themselves not touching each sects’ piece).
Lebanon Debate staff and editorial board can have a political opinion but exposing it in this trashy, non-professional, totally biased way made them look more like a party propaganda machine more than of a professional objective media. Shame! But at least we now know their political affiliation after hiding a lot in the dark.